By Claire Booth
Do you have a library on your block? If so, chances are it’s thanks to Todd Bol. The Wisconsin man built the very first one in 2009 with wood from an old garage door. He stocked it with books and started a movement. Less than 10 years later, there are more than 75,000 Little Free Libraries in 88 countries.
Bol died Thursday at age 62 shortly after being diagnosed with pancreatic and then peritoneal cancer.
He was, his brother said, like Johnny Appleseed, “planting these things and keeping them going.”
Bol grew up loving stories, and his favorite ones became the ones people told about the Little Free Libraries they built. Not only do the libraries get people reading, they get neighbors talking to one another, Bol would say. He founded the Little Free Library non-profit in 2012 to help spread his gospel of free access to books and neighborhood togetherness. The organization now also sponsors little libraries in neighborhoods that need them most; puts books in police stations and squad cars through its Kids, Communities & Cops program; and coordinates the Action Book Club, where it suggests community service projects that book clubs or other groups can pair together with a discussion topic.
That’s a whole lot of good to come out of something that started with nothing but some old wood and an idea. And it’s all thanks to Bol, who not only wanted more people to read but actually did something about it. As a thank you, consider a donation to the Little Free Library organization. Or build one yourself. Or stock one with books (I know you have tons of them). Or talk to your neighbor. Make the world a better place. Be the good. Be a Todd Bol.
To read the full-length interview the Minneapolis Star Tribune did with Bol, click here.